A pediatrician by the name of Dr. Nils Bergman from the University of Cape Town in South Africa believes women should be letting their babies sleep with them for a lot longer than you might think. Apparently sleeping alone makes it harder for the child to bond with his or her mother.

According to the Telegraph, Bergman believes not co-sleeping might even affect the child’s brain development. This is something that has for quite some time now been causing great controversy as sharing beds is thought to be dangerous for the baby in general. However, Bergman argues that when babies are smothered or suffer from cot deaths it is rarely ever because the mother is present. He says babies should be in the same bed as their mothers if possible until they are three or four years old.

He told the Telegraph as follows:

 “When babies are smothered and suffer cot deaths, it is not because their mother is present. It is because of other things: toxic fumes, cigarettes, alcohol, big pillows and dangerous toys.”

Bergman also founded a movement that is known as ‘Kangaroo Mother Care,’ it revolves around the idea of just how important skin to skin contact is between a mother and her newborn. When it comes to babies and why they should sleep with Mom he actually studied the sleeping patterns of 16 infants. Only 6 babies in the group were able to sleep comfortably on their own. This study revealed a disruption in the brain’s sleep cycle that is vital in organ development. According to Bergman a lack of sleep at an age so young could cause severe behavioral issues as the child progresses in life.

He wrote as follows in regards to those findings:

This is possibly the first paper published that provides any kind of research evidence on the effects of separation on the brain of the human newborn. What it shows is that babies that are sleeping in cots three or four feet from their mothers are in a state of “anxious arousal” … meaning that they are stressed. This stress can influence their earliest development. Brain development also requires one hourly sleep cycles: the separated babies were not sleep cycling, and their “Quiet Sleep” was one-seventh of the babies in skin-to-skin contact. So this paper shows two separate pathways – probably interlinked –  whereby early separation may have an adverse effect of good development.

Bergman even went so far as to say it might affect their abilities to form real relationships. What do you think about this? Do you think that babies should be co-sleeping with their parents or should they be in their cribs?

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